The serene environs surrounding Amban River that feeds the Parakrama Samudraya
A little known wilderness with a name that proved completely alien to my tongue, I found myself often stumped for a few seconds when enquiring after directions. From Polonnaruwa, the route fell along the 12km long bund of the largest man-made tank of Sri Lanka, the Parakrama Samudraya and through a sleepy village of Kalahagala. A short distance ahead the road was soon cast amidst the encroaching shrubs, nettles and cooling shade of...A-n-g-a-m-e-d-i-l-l-e.
Words Prasadini Nanayakkara Photography Indika De Silva
An extension of the Wasgamuwa National Park which borders from the south east end, Angamedille is a fairly new National Park christened in the year 2006. A small enclosure of roughly 7,800 ha at the park office the journey into the forest was met with tall trees and heavy creepers. The quiet rustle was soon disrupted with a troupe of monkeys that took post across the canopied environs. The trails here were narrow and burdened with the overflowing growth of greenery. These paths were clearly less travelled. The forest's inhabitants too were scarcely seen out in the open, our guide revealed. However the maila trees offer an abundant source of food for the elephants as do the young shoots of the kokurumanna for the herds of deer that frequent the area.
It is said that this lake never dries and provided a rich habitat for the aquatic birds and crocodiles
While trails and paths through the jungle are few, and often run short in the contoured jungle landscapes, there was much to admire. Certain patches of forest are reforested areas from abandoned paddy lands of years ago, the means of irrigation to feed crops blended naturally and were fortunate sources of sustenance to the wild inhabitants. The first path led us to just such a man-made lake, called the Mahaiyawa. It is said that this lake never dries and provided a rich habitat for the aquatic birds and crocodiles. Fed by the Amban River, the Mahaiyawa added a quiet charm to the surroundings. At the edge of the lake was our first pit stop and from here on the path could only be ventured on foot.
With two camping sites available across the park, the first could be reached from the Mahaiyawa Lake through a route that tunneled through the jungle. This turned out to be a short walk that came to an abrupt end and led us closer to the banks of the Lake. An ideal spot to immerse in the wilderness, the forest floor sloped high above to disappear out of sight from one end and from the opposite, the banks led directly into the stillness of the Lake waters. Further out into the water, whistling ducks and Jacanas floated in small flocks and offered the only signs of life around the area. All else was a quiet with only our feet crunching on the forest floor heavily carpeted with dead leaves. This made the climb up the sloping forest floor a very slippery business! Retreating from the dead-end campsite we had one more path to explore.
Our next sighting lay across the road from the park office. And the narrow trail led us to the silkily flowing waters of the Amban River and the ancient stonework of what remained of the anicut built by King Parakramabahu to harness water for the ancient Parakrama Samudraya. Large trees leaned benevolently towards the river and although inviting, the waters are infested with crocodiles. We were particularly captivated by a tree that at a glance seemed to bear rambutan fruits. The ‘fruits' it turned out were in fact flowers of the Bakmi tree and we whiled away the minutes in its cooling shade at the banks of the river.
the cooling breeze, the green landscapes of canopies and the mountains in the horizon slowly stole away our fatigue
While paths to explore the park are still being indentified, we headed towards the last remaining established route that would lead us to a pinnacle to gauge a better view of the entire forest cover. This path took us back on to the main road. Through an obscure breach along the road lay a path inundated with dry leaves. After a steep and hefty climb, we reached the summit with the pounding pulse from exertion beating in our ears. From above, the cooling breeze and the green landscapes of canopies and the mountains in the horizon slowly stole away our fatigue. Our gazes rested on nameless mountains that silhouetted the horizon. As the sun rose to its peak and the rock summit gradually warmed our feet, it was time to abandon our coveted viewing post. The path on which we had arrived sloped precariously downward, dried leaf cover adding to the challenge - this was going to be a tricky slippery slope!